<
>

Chicago coach says extension is for four years

CHICAGO -- A talk with his boss changed Scott Skiles' mind
and then it changed his future.
One day after he said he was through negotiating with the
Chicago Bulls and was shocked by the process, Skiles agreed Tuesday
to a four-year contract extension to keep coaching the young team
he led to a remarkable comeback this season.
It was a heart-to-heart phone conversation with owner Jerry
Reinsdorf -- about a 30-minute call that Skiles initiated -- that got
the deal done. So instead of leaving town, Skiles is staying put.
"I actually came in this morning and kind of felt bad to say
the least about the way things have gone," Skiles said. "I didn't
want anything to break down because, you know, sort of foolish
pride on my part, or some sort of immaturity on my part. I wanted
to have a man-to-man talk with the owner of my team."
General manager John Paxson would not disclose the terms of the
contract, but said: "He's going to get paid well, it's in line
with the top coaches."
"I'm really glad he's back," Paxson said. "This is a big
thing for the franchise."
Previous reports had said that Skiles had turned down a
four-year, $17 million offer.
He refused Tuesday to talk about the financial details, but
stressed that money was not the only factor.
"Of course it's involved in there. It was just more about some
things that had gone on that maybe frankly I misunderstood,"
Skiles said.
The length of the contract was a priority for Skiles, according
to Paxson.
"Ultimately, the number of years on the extension was important
to Scott," he said. "We accommodated him on that."
Skiles had ended negotiations for a contract extension a month
after leading the Bulls to their first playoff appearance in seven
years. It was unclear as late as Tuesday afternoon whether he would
stay with the team. Next season would have been the final season of
his previous three-year deal.
"Obviously I wasn't that optimistic yesterday," Skiles said.
"If you consider the four principals -- John, Jerry and [agent
Keith Glass] and I -- you are talking about four pretty
strong-willed grown men."
Paxson said the news of Skiles' deal even took him by surprise.
"I'm not going to lie to you, the last couple of days I was
thinking we were not going to have him very long," he said.
"Let's give Scott credit, he obviously wants to be here."
Skiles and Paxson spoke to reporters at the campus of the Moody
Bible Institute, where the NBA is holding its pre-draft camp.
In the Bulls' second season under Skiles, they improved from
19-47 to 47-35. They lost to Washington in six games in the first
round of the playoffs.
The Bulls hired Skiles on Nov. 28, 2003, to replace Bill
Cartwright after the team got off to a 4-10 start. He arrived with
a checkered reputation after spending portions of three seasons as
the Phoenix Suns coach. He had a 116-79 record at Phoenix, and was
5-8 in the playoffs. He had a 10-year career in the NBA before
going into coaching.
Skiles has said he thinks the Bulls' success this season
repaired his image.
"I know he's happy he can leave his mark on the Bulls
organization," Paxson said. "His best years as a coach are ahead
of him."